U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney said for the first time on Monday that he supports an official minute of silence at Friday's opening ceremony to honor Israeli athletes killed at the 1972 Munich Olympics.
Reuters reported that Romney's move broke years of his own silence on the issue, including his time leading the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics in 2002. During those Games, survivors of the slain Israelis called on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to observe a moment of silence to mark the 30th anniversary of the massacre in Munich. The IOC declined.
“Governor Romney supports the moment of silence in remembrance of the Israeli athletes killed in the Munich Olympic Games,” Andrea Saul, a spokeswoman for Romney, told Reuters in an email on Monday.
Romney's statement comes after U.S. President Barack Obama expressed his support for a moment of silence in memory of the 11 Israeli athletes who were murdered.
Tommy Vietor, a spokesman for Obama, said in a statement last week, “We absolutely support the campaign for a moment of silence at the Olympics to honor the Israeli athletes killed in Munich.”
The IOC has rejected calls to hold a moment of silence at the opening ceremony. IOC president Jacques Rogge said on Saturday that the opening ceremony is “not fit” to remember the Munich Massacre.
“We feel that the opening ceremony is an atmosphere that is not fit to remember such a tragic incident,” stated Rogge. He tried to soften the blow to Israelis and Jews around the world by reminding them that the IOC will visit the airfield where some Israeli team members were killed.
London mayor Boris Johnson seemed to disagree with the IOC. Johnson was asked on his Twitter account, “What is your opinion on the IOC's decision not to allow a one minute silence at London 2012 Olympic games?”
In response, he said, “Believe me we will have one. Was stunned to find Barcelona (20 anniversary) had nothing.”
NBC sportscaster Bob Costas said on Monday he plans to call out the IOC for denying Israel's request for a moment of silence.
Costas intends to make his remarks as the Israeli delegation enters the 80,000-seat Olympic Stadium for the opening ceremony.
“I intend to note that the IOC denied the request,” he said. “Many people find that denial more than puzzling but insensitive. Here's a minute of silence right now.”